New Year’s Feast

Since 2005 we’ve been hosting the family feast for Rosh Hashanah. And what is a traditional holiday dinner without an excuse to do some cooking.


Rosh Hashanah occurs in September or October and so it’s traditional to include fall produce, particularly fruits which symbolize the hoped for sweetness of the new year. To this effect we made a huge run on the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and picked up nearly all of the fruits and vegetables for the meal, including this apples.


When you have to slice two dozen of them, the slicer helps. These are served with honey (also from the market).


A traditional first course is the chicken McNugget of the fish world, Gefilte Fish. We made ours from scratch using this recipe.


As we have a beet dish, we used the beet greens as garnish.


You can see some of the appetizer plates prepped and ready to go.


And the fish plated with the greens and horseradish sauce (using Atomic Horseradish naturally).


Second course was a dish we’ve been working on this fall. Jose AndresGazpacho (recipe here). This is the garnish of homemade croutons and various vegetables from the farmer’s market.


And with the soup added, dressed with a bit of olive oil and toasted pinenuts. You can see the chef’s own version at my recent é outing.


Then the main course is served buffet style. Here is the finished spread.


It includes farmer’s market mixed potatoes in olive oil, salt, and garlic.


Roasted.


And in their final form.


This beet salad (recipe here). We adapted it for buffet style serving (chopped everything finer).


Here with dressing.


My brother’s homemade couscous with various farmer’s market vegetables, mint, etc.


Brisket is one of the traditional meats for the dinner. This is one of two giant slabs of beef we cook up.


We used this recipe (more or less). Which involves slow cooking (for a long time) with carrots and various fruits.


And here is the finished and dressed version. At some point in the middle the brisket is pulled out, sliced, and put back into the stew.


A more conventional “autumn salad.”


The bottom of “Wendy’s Kugel.”


And extracted. I’m not generally a big kugel fan, but this one tastes like a cinnamon, so I’m very partial to it.


And my gluttonous plate.


Then the dessert spread.


My mom generally makes a fruit crumble out of whatever is in season. This year we picked up at the farmer’s market these lovely nectarines.


And added some fresh blackberries.


Here dabbed in flour to prevent them getting too damp.


The crumble itself is a mixture of crisco, nuts, flour, cinnamon, and sugar.


You just sprinkle it on top of the fruit.


And bake.

We also made a traditional seven layer cake. You bake seven very thin cakes.


Make butter-creme icing.


And then layer them up one by one.


And add some finishing touches!

There were snacks and a lot of wine too, but I’m too full to get into it.

Food as Art: Chanukah in Style

Some old friends invited us over to their place for a Chanukah party. Now, as many of you may know, the traditional food for this occasion is potato latkes. These are basically shredded potato and onion deep fried. Like any fried thing, if fresh, they can be tasty.

Now bear in mind that I didn’t do any of the excellent cooking depicted below. The hostess of this party has always been an amazing cook, and this was a collaborative effort between many members of her family. I brought the wine.

Four different kinds of latkes were made (details below). This is the batter from the cheesy one. My one cooking contribution was to fold in the whipped egg whites. This is basically blintz filling.

Some frying. Latkes are usually pan fried.

The wine. Given that applesauce and the like are traditional latkes accompaniments, I brought a very fine sweet Riesling. Parker gave the 2008 a 95, but the 2009 hasn’t been reviewed yet by him. But I have some notes: “Sweet mineral and hay notes, with defined notes of fresh cut grass, honeysuckle, and lemon drop, are apparent in the intense perfume of the Wehlener Auslese. The bitter yet sweet flavors of citrus peel and white pepper enrapture the palate, while sweet lychee and melon notes become pronounced on the mid-palate, opening and expanding with the wine’s rich and nearly searing minerality. Yet this is a rich and creamy example of Auslese, its bold concentration and grip becoming more apparent on the back palate. Lingering cherry and apricot flavors are spent savorily on the minute long finish. This wine promises to take its place with the many of its ilk on the high-90s rating panel!”

Then one of my all time favorite wines, The M Chapoutier ‘Ermitage Le Pavillon. It always scores between 95-100. “Year in and year out, one of the three greatest Hermitages made is Chapoutier’s Le Pavillon. The 2001 Ermitage Le Pavillon exhibits a saturated ruby/purple color as well as a big, sweet nose of camphor, ink, creme de cassis, and hints of licorice as well as smoke. Although dense, rich, and full-bodied, the 2001 reveals more acidity in its delineated, nervous personality. Unquestionably great and intense, it will be less charming and precocious than its 2000 sibling. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2030. (I disagree, but Michel Chapoutier feels his finest three Le Pavillons to date have been 1991 followed by 1995 and 2000. I retain a preference for the glorious trilogy of 1989, 1990, and 1991.)”

Classic potato, but made totally from scratch.

On the left are the carrot latkes, and the right sweet potato. Personally, I thought both superior to the classic, but i’m not a huge potato fan. These were both awesome. Some of the sweet potato ones had nuts in them, which i liked.

The cheese latkes, made with the batter shown above. Raisons were mixed in. These were delectable, tasting like blintz filling, with a nice light fully ricotta flavor. Personally, I found them to be a bit reminiscent of a recipe from Apicius where the Romans mixed ricotta, herbs, lightly fried it, and drizzled it in honey.

Top shelf condiments. Two sorts of sour cream, two hand made apple sauces (from two apple types) and strawberry jam. Latkes go well with sweetness, cuts the fat.

A blend of various chilies, in case the above is just too sweet and mild.

This was an amazing salad. It had a bit of everything in it, and was delicious.

Two homemade deserts. The hostess makes the most incredible deserts. On the left is a praline cheesecake, and on the right is a bavarian cream tart.

All that needed an expresso.